AIDS Vaccine Fails; Study Halted

September 24, 2007 at 10:48 am 1 comment

A large international study to find a vaccine to prevent HIV infection has been halted after 24 of 761 trial participants in one segment of the study became infected with HIV.

The volunteers in the experiment were all free of HIV at the start. But they were at high risk for getting the virus: Most were homosexual men or female sex workers. They were all repeatedly counseled about how to reduce their risk of HIV infections, including use of condoms, according to Merck.

In a statement, the NIH said a data safety monitoring board, reviewing interim results, found the vaccine did not prevent HIV infection. Nor did it limit severity of the disease “in those who become infected with HIV as a result of their own behaviors that exposed them to the virus” — another goal of the study.

The Merck effort was considered the most promising attempt to create a vaccine. It aimed at making the body produce more of a crucial immune cell called killer T cells. The goal was to simultaneously “train” those cells, like an army, to quickly recognize and destroy the AIDS virus when it enters cells in the bloodstream.

Additional vaccine efforts are underway though none has thus far reached the advanced stage of the Merck trial.

Entry filed under: Health, HIV/AIDS, LGBT. Tags: , , , , , , .

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